As I write this, it is nearing midnight and most of the other cell lights are off. People are in bed, which is where I am, too. But I’m sitting up, book light clipped to my Ohio University English textbook, and a pad of paper to write upon on top of the textbook. I find that at night I get my best work done. This is for a number of reasons. The primary reason is the reduction in noise. By 11:30 p.m. the din of noise has reduced to the occasional scream or banging against one’s door.
As part of the blog’s format change, I’ve decided to experiment as to what I write. I suppose that tonight’s blog, being a “Personal Update,” is born out of a desire to create and unwind. After all, just because one is in prison doesn’t mean that they don’t have any stress. In fact, one is presented with stressors of unimaginable proportions. A prime example is the hatred directed at me for being productive.
The productive aspect is one of jealousy. To anyone wasting their life away in prison, the prisoner-student writing a college essay or taking an ACE (Adult Continuing Education) class is a threat. They feel reduced and somehow threatened because of this productivity, because of being left behind. Naturally, this isn’t my perspective. I do what I do not to belittle others. My writing and studying activities bring meaning to my life. I try to empathize with ‘them.’ Yet my empathy does not thwart their animosity.
I’m sad to say that I have intimate experience with discrimination. Because I am a prison educator I am shunned…by some. Just a few weeks ago I had an argument with a man in his late 30s or early 40s. He was upset with me for teaching my class. He felt that I was helping the prison’s administration earn money by teaching my class. Somewhere in his warped mind he felt that all prisoners should refuse to take any courses because the prison made money when prisoners attended classes.